Archive for Sunday, September 27, 2009

Smoking ban benefits come swiftly

September 27, 2009


On the street

Would you support a nationwide smoking ban?

Yes, I would because I’m actually allergic to smoke and people die from it. It’s bad.

More responses

Research is backing up what health professionals have long thought was true: Smoking bans are heart healthy.

A new study at Kansas University found that smoking bans reduce the number of heart attacks each year by as much as 26 percent.

“The effect of smoke on heart attacks is huge,” said David Meyers, professor of cardiology and preventive medicine at Kansas University Medical Center and lead investigator of the study. “Even breathing in low doses of cigarette smoke can increase one’s risk of heart attack.”

Meyers estimated that a nationwide ban on public smoking could prevent as many as 154,000 heart attacks each year. Nonsmokers would benefit by limiting their exposure to secondhand smoke. Smokers would have a greater incentive to quit or cut back.

These findings are particularly important in light of mounting evidence that secondhand smoke exposure is nearly as harmful as smoking. Direct smoking doubles the risk of heart attack, while secondhand smoke increases the risk by 30 percent. According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, 400 Kansans die each year as a result of secondhand smoke inhalation.

Immediate benefits

The KU study also found that smoking bans have immediate benefits, with declines in reported heart attack cases within three months.

“Within minutes of the ban, it is going to start having an effect on heart attacks,” Meyers said.

Heart attacks are being used as a measuring stick — instead of lung cancer and emphysema, for example — because they don’t take years of exposure to develop.

“Heart attacks are caused in large part by blood clots,” Meyers said. “With 20 minutes or so of tobacco smoke exposure, people’s blood becomes hypercoagulable and sticky and clots easily, and bam, you have a heart attack.”

Mounting evidence

The study, which Meyers did with colleagues John Neuberger and Jianghua He, is in Tuesday’s Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Another study on smoking bans was recently published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation and was done by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. They looked at much of the same data and came to the same conclusions.

Collectively, the studies involved 24 million people and looked at 11 geographic areas, including Helena, Mont.; Pueblo, Colo.; Saskatoon, Canada; and Rome, Italy. The observations of the effect of the bans ranged from two months to three years.

Meyers said the research should put to rest the debate and doubts that persist about the health benefits of smoking bans.

“There is no way — absolutely no way — with 24 million people over three years that we are being fooled by statistics.” Meyers said. “The argument — that this is bad science — has now been put definitively to rest.”

With such mounting evidence, he hopes Kansas soon will join the 32 states that have enacted smoking bans in public and workplaces. In fact, he would like to see a uniform, nationwide ban to make it fair for everyone, especially for businesses that are on state borders such as in the Kansas City area.

“I am a restaurant groupie, so I know a lot of the owners, and it is not unreasonable for them to argue if I don’t have smoking in my restaurant and so and so down the street does, the smokers are going to go there and I am going to lose business. That’s not an unreasonable argument,” Meyers said.

“What needs to happen is there needs to be a widespread, uniform ban so that it is fair. Now, I am truly embarrassed that big-time smoking countries like Ireland, Scotland, France and Italy have had the political will to have national smoking bans that work. What’s wrong with us?”

While it likely won’t happen at the national level, there will be a strong push for a statewide ban in Kansas during the next legislative session.

“My administration will fully support, and promote, a meaningful statewide smoking ban,” Gov. Mark Parkinson said. “The ultimate goal of our efforts is simple — reduce rates of cancer and tobacco-related diseases among Kansans.”

He said as more and more Kansans learn about the benefits of the legislation, the issue has gained significant support and momentum.

“A few years ago, the Clean Indoor Air Act couldn’t get the votes it needed to be passed out of a committee,” Parkinson said. “Last year, the act passed the Senate Chamber, and we will make a significant push to continue that success this session in the House.”

According to a 2007 Kansas Adult Tobacco Survey, 71 percent of voters favor a statewide smoke-free law, and nearly one-third of voters who smoke support the same law.

State leader

Five years ago, Lawrence was among the first cities in Kansas to pass a smoking ban. Lawrence resident David Dunfield helped lead the way by appointing a special task force to look into the issue as mayor and then voting for the ban as a city commissioner.

“I have never regretted it for a minute. It’s a public health issue, and that’s why we took it on,” Dunfield said. “As more research comes in, it just continues to validate what we did.”

Dr. Steven Bruner, of Lawrence Family Medicine and Obstetrics, also was a proponent of the smoking ban and has learned the benefits are much higher than he previously suspected.

He said when he first read about research done in Helena, Mont., that linked the reduction in heart attacks to a smoking ban, he thought the statistics were astonishing and maybe some kind of fluke.

“But now it has been studied in different places, and they all show the same thing. After a while, you have to believe it’s real,” he said.

Meyers and the KDHE said tracking the health benefits regarding Lawrence’s smoking ban would be extremely difficult because there are too many people who commute to and from area towns that do not have smoking bans. There also are 30,000 students at Kansas University.

“Unlike Pueblo, Colorado, you just do not have a little closed community,” said Candace Ayars, director of tobacco use prevention program at KDHE.

But Meyers doesn’t doubt for a second that Lawrence’s ban has made a great impact.

“The studies would suggest that, yes, it is saving lives. You guys are outstanding.”


generalsn 8 years, 7 months ago

It's interesting that smoking outdoors is a lot healthier.

GardenMomma 8 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps because the smoke can dissipate faster?

I wonder if it's the tobacco itself or all the additives that's so bad for your heart. Or is there such a thing as organic tobacco?

brian1981 8 years, 7 months ago

Our left wing Lawrence friends are always in a jam regarding this one.

One the one hand, big tobacco is an evil right wing big business industry that happily destroys our cherished health for a massive profit and needs to be crushed. On the other hand, God forbid you tell them they can't smoke their beloved cigarettes for a few hours out of the day. They will slap bumper stickers all over their cars in no time flat. You see, tobacco is only evil when it's someone else that's smoking it.

BigPrune 8 years, 7 months ago

If cigarette smoking is so bad, why is it that smoking marijuana is okay to our liberal friends?

classclown 8 years, 7 months ago

How many of the people that did this study are smokers?

How many people that did study are non smokers that consider smoking to be evil?

The head guy for this study certainly thinks smoking is evil.

kansasmutt 8 years, 7 months ago

This story is such BS. Most who quit smoking take up jogging and change eating habbits and get healthy with new health concerns. The smoking wasnt the issue, they were lazy and found something new to make them active is all. Another fact. If everyone quit buying cigs in Kansas the day the bill passes, the state would be broke $$$ in less than 72 hours.This fact is real. CA - and others found that when you pass a statewide ban, you loose $$$$ billions in a flash.Instead of passing a no smoking ban, try this. Offer a tax beak for anyone who opens a non smoking business or go,s smoke free.Compromise and leave goverment out of my business. Post signs if smoking is allowed or if it is smoke free. Very simple and both sides win.(((((I cant wait to hear why this wont work.)))))

jonas_opines 8 years, 7 months ago

"According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, 400 Kansans die each year as a result of secondhand smoke inhalation."

Whatever he says about bad science (and sample size in no way makes your science good), I can't remember how many different numbers (up to 64,000 a year) I've been told die from second-hand smoke inhalation.

And still no one has Ever, to my knowledge, dilineated between the light exposure in bars and restaurants and the heavy exposure of living with a smoker. What happens if 364 of those deaths come from people who breath in their spouses smoke every day?

mickeyrat 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm still waiting for the report on second-hand automobile exhaust so I can push for a statewide driving ban.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 7 months ago

BigPrune (Anonymous) says…

If cigarette smoking is so bad, why is it that smoking marijuana is okay to our liberal friends?

I'm no liberal, but I would love to field this question.

the fact is, that marijuana use has never been identified as the cause of even one single death. While smoking it is not the optimal healthy method for ingestion, it is still far safer than cigarette smoking. one of the primary reasons may be that most people don't chain smoke marijuana.

While new studies of marijuana are showing benefits to a host of medical issues, cigarette's only benefit appear to be a reduction in anxiety. of course, the half a million deaths attributed to direct cigarette smoking far outweigh the lone benefit.

Phil Minkin 8 years, 7 months ago

MY ANSWERS: Outdoor smoking only harms the idiot who is smoking, not those around him/her. No one claims smoking pot isn't harmful, but it is gererally done in private, Especially in this economy, empoyees will stay on the job in a smoke filled environment even though they know the danger. There is no push to outlaw the purchase of tabacco, thus we still get the taxes, just to prohibit it's use in public places. And the savings in health care cost for smoking related disease would be reduced if people quit.
I encourage people to smoke in their home or car--they die sooner and help with over population. In fact increase the nicotine so you smoke one carton and die, why drag it out?

parrothead8 8 years, 7 months ago

generalsn (Anonymous) says…

It's interesting that smoking outdoors is a lot healthier. must have better vision than me. I didn't see that mentioned in the article. The fact is that cigarette smoke doesn't dissipate as well indoors, where the air doesn't circulate as much.

I've lived in a state where there is a statewide smoking ban, and I've lived in a state where there is no ban on smoking. It makes for a far more pleasurable night on the town to do without eye and throat irritation, and without stinky, smoky clothes.

I'm a non-smoker, and I don't really care if a smoking ban is enacted or not, but I will say that I won't patronize a business that allows smoking inside. I only get to live once, and life is too short.

tomatogrower 8 years, 7 months ago

So, do "conservatives" believe that people can have sex in public, and urinate in public, and be drunk in public, and smoke in public, etc.?

KansasVoter 8 years, 7 months ago

BigPrune (Anonymous) says… "If cigarette smoking is so bad, why is it that smoking marijuana is okay to our liberal friends?"

Inhaling any kind of smoke into your lungs is bad, but you're comparing apples and oranges. A pack of cigarettes has roughly 3/4 of an ounce of tobacco, and some people smoke a pack a day. On the other hand, 3/4 of an ounce of marijuana would last the typical pot smoker 3 to 4 weeks.

notajayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

“There is no way — absolutely no way — with 24 million people over three years that we are being fooled by statistics.” Meyers said. “The argument — that this is bad science — has now been put definitively to rest.”

Can you say "BS," Professor Meyers? Sure - I knew you could. It's amazing that any researcher can expect their findings to be taken seriously when they ignore one of the basic tenets of research - correlation can not prove causation. As kansasmutt pointed out, there are lifestyle changes that affect the likelihood of heart attacks, and those lifestyle changes were likely in effect before the community even passed a ban.

Anyone remember the 55 mph speed limit? Shortly after it was passed, the Highway and Traffic Safety Administration claimed that the lower limit was immediately responsible for a reduction in fatalities. One of the car magazines went back through some prior research that the HTSA had put out, about how certain mandatory safety features on cars had been responsible for reducing fatalities (seatbelts, padded dashboards, safety glass, etc., were just beginning to be mandatory on the majority of cars on the road at about the time of the lower limits). The HTSA had attributed 'x' fewer deaths to seatbelts, 'y' fewer to padded dashboards, 'z' fewer to safety glass, etc., - and it turned out that, after accounting for the HTSA's earlier claims using their own numbers, fatalities had actually increased after the speed limit was lowered.

What's the old saying? Lies, damned lies, and statistics?

beatrice 8 years, 7 months ago

lg40: "Who paid for this “research”? KU scientists will report anything as long as the money keeps coming in. It is a social welfare system for the liberal elite."

Yep, science is an evil concept perpetuated by liberal elites. Um, nice argument. Next thing you know, those crazy scientists will be trying to convince us that the earth is more than 6000 years old, or that illnesses are caused by tiny little things we can't even see with the naked eye rather than clearly being curses from Satan.

nota, did you just write that lower speeds in automobiles actually results in higher accident rates? WTF? Please do show us this bit of research to support your claim.

Sometimes it boggles the mind how far some people will go in thier attempts to take the side of an argument they think they should be taking.

mr_right_wing 8 years, 7 months ago

I wouldn't lose too much sleep of your brethren is Commander-in-Chief. There will be no national ban on smoking anytime soon!! While Obama's in office you're probably pretty safe. Our national Marlboro man will protect you!

notajayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

beatrice (Anonymous) says…

"nota, did you just write that lower speeds in automobiles actually results in higher accident rates? WTF? Please do show us this bit of research to support your claim."


A mind - even a paltry thing like poor bea's - is such a terrible thing to waste.

Why, no, dearie, as a matter of fact I said no such thing. I said that, after accounting for lives saved by mandatory automobile safety figures using the NHTSA's own figures, fatalities went up after the speed limit was lowered. Your version of what I said only goes to underscore my point - the fallacy of the 'post hoc ergo propter hoc' argument, that if something happened after an action was taken then it must have been caused by that action.

It's hard to figure you out sometimes, dearie. Most of the time you come across like a bitter old crone, and other times it seems like you aren't old enough to remember anything before the Clinton years. (Then again, I suppose you could be so old you don't remember anything before the Clinton years.) The Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act was signed into law in 1974. Not too many magazines had their articles online back then. I believe it was Car and Driver that crunched the numbers, and they were very clear in stating that their numbers did not prove, or even suggest, that fatalities went up because of the lower speed limits - to say as much would have been just as ridiculous as saying the lower speed limits were solely responsible for the reduction in fatalities.

You really should do something about your reading comprehension, dearie - maybe you could have a third-grader explain the posts to you before you try to respond?

notajayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

As I said it's difficult to find a 25+ year old magazine article, bea, dearie, but I did find a few little things like this:

"In the first year of the NMSL, national traffic fatalities fell 15.3 percent. Speed limit advocates immediately saw a causal relationship between the two events, and "Stay Alive at 55" was born. The presumed link, however, seems illusory. If it existed, then traffic deaths would rise and fall in conjunction with changes in the average speed traveled. Although the average speed on the nation's highways has increased over the last ten years, as drivers increasingly ignored posted limits and enforcement efforts diminished, the number of highway fatalities per 100 million miles traveled has continued to decline. In 1982, for example, there was a 12.7 percent decrease in traffic deaths, even though average highway speeds rose to 59 mph from 57.8 mph, or 2.1, percent the previous year."

"The change in driving habits was not 1974's only significant new factor. That year Congress required that all automobiles sold in the U.S. be equipped with the "ignition interlock a device to prevent a driver from starting his or her car before buckling the seat belt. That year, therefore a significant number of Americans used a seat belt for the first time. This drove down fatalities ..."

"If the reduction in maximum highway speeds were the key factor responsible for the 15.3 percent drop in fatalities, then the decline would have:followed the law's enactment. Yet the decline in traffic fatalities actually preceded the imposition of a national speed limit. In fact, highway deaths per 100 million miles traveled actually rose in the first few months after the speed limit was imposed."

notajayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

And by the way, bea, dearie, why aren't you up on your soapbox crying out for the rights of all those restaurant workers exposed to the carcinogenic smoke from grilled meats? Oh, forgot, "But, that's different."

beatrice 8 years, 7 months ago

"... in the first few months ..."

Um, how about after the first few months? My god, do you even read the stupid stuff you are posting?

Why not the meat issue you ask? One thing at a time. Need to rid the workplace and public spaces of loser addicts and their junkie (but legal) habits first.

Further, this also isn't my soap box. Somebody else is asking the questions and writing the stories and, like you, I'm just responding, dear, little junkie.

notajayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

beatrice (Anonymous) says…

"Um, how about after the first few months? My god, do you even read the stupid stuff you are posting?"

Apparently much better than you did, dearie. Again, please get a third-grader to explain the difficult parts, it might save you some embarassment (although I doubt it). Really, dearie, while your posts are always good for a laugh, self-immolation is always painful to watch.

Too bad your reading comprehension is so pitiful, I wouldn't have to keep explaining and repeating things to you (I hear Aricept works wonders, dearie, perhaps you should talk to your doctor). After the first few months, dearie, the fatality rate dropped off, and continued to do so, despite the fact that average speed increased. So are you suggesting that, in 1982, the fatality rate went down 12.7% because the average speed increased?

"Why not the meat issue you ask? One thing at a time."

Oh, goodie, bea dear will be taking on meat next. What's after that, sweetums? A ban on nudity in topless clubs? After all, it's a public place you have a right to go into, and we wouldn't want your delicate sensibilities offended. Maybe a ban on foul language - maybe even loud cheering - at a sports bar? How wonderful for you to be the arbiter of what's acceptable behavior for the rest of the world, dearie.

"I'm just responding, dear, little junkie"

Awwwwwww, poow widdle beatwice has her poow widdle feewings huwt.

This has been a good day. bea dearie has resorted to changing the argument at least three times when she's made a fool of herself, resorted to outright lying, and now name-calling. Pretty much sums up the strength of her 'position.'

Randall Barnes 8 years, 7 months ago


hutchster 8 years, 3 months ago

Good Lord people! Ive noticed violence is much less prominent in the church of jesus christ and the laterday saints sooooooo........................we should now pass a law that we are all now going to be in this religion for it is safer for our communities our children, our grandchildren! Give me a freaking break. People have smoked since the begining of our country in our country and thrived on our growing tobacco industry! If you dont smoke you know someone who does your probabaly related to someone does or has smoked at some point in their life.. Rights are abolished one step at a time, by research and hear says that cant be proven. Did the study note if these individuals exercised, eat kfc 3 times a week? What kind of salad dressing did they use? Were all the variables the same was each group studied drinking the same water out of the same tower from the same portion of the river? Or did they drink the same brand of water from store purchases? Did they have the same history of heart attacks in their family and did they watch the same shows on tv? At the same time? go to bed at the same time? sleep exactly in the same cycle? Were they all women or men? Did any develop cancer? WOW!! Ive so many questions when will we see this report in full it must all be in there because its a proven fact! Right?

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

So long as Kansas legislators promote smoking expect to experience an increase in medical insurance.

Yes we all pay!

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